A blast until you faceplant
Ever since I watched the opening ceremonies during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, I’ve wanted a pair of jumping stilts. I’ve never had a problem with risk-taking and I loved the idea of being able to spring over large objects like cars. I’ve been trying to be more active recently and I thought, “Now is the time for the stilts!” I thought that maybe the enjoyment I would get from using them would be good motivation to get moving. While that ended up being true, I also found that the jumping stilts may not be the right activity for me to focus my time on.
The information on how the stilts are built is a bit sparse. The Skyrunner website and Amazon product page for the stilts both state that these are the same stilts that were used during the Beijing Olympics and that they can hold up to 242 pounds. The details then go through the health benefits of using the stilts. I believe they are made with stainless steel and heavy plastic. The straps are nylon with plastic locks to hold them tight. The stilts come with a dvd that includes a couple of older video demos of people using the stilts. They do not come with instructions on how to properly put the stilts on or how to make adjustments.
Our unboxing experience was cut short due to how poorly the box looked when it arrived. You would have thought by looking at it that the stilts had been bashed around a store shelf for years. The box was raggedy and no tape was used to hold the bottom together. The bottom was partially open and I wasn’t sure if everything would be intact inside. Once we pulled the bottom of the box the rest of the way open we did find the stilts to be wrapped in foam wrap and cardboard. Some of the wrappings had come off and the stilts had already been damaged. I’m not sure if this is because we received a used pair or that it was just damaged from shipping all the way from China. Nevertheless, I was super excited to try them out.
I waited for Robyn to arrive home before attempting to break my neck on the jumping stilts so that I would have a ride to the hospital if need be. We found that the protective gear provided by Skyrunner was absolutely worthless. What I mean by this is that the stilts are made for adults and the gear provided was no bigger than child size. Not only was the protective gear child size but it was also very poorly made. The straps were different sizes and the padding was almost non-existent.
The quality of the stilts – with the exception of the straps – was super solid. I felt good about the way the metal was put together. When I first put them on I needed Robyn’s help in getting them fully strapped. The straps locking mechanism will pop off as it is made from cheap plastic and unless you pull them straight to tighten them, they will snap right off the strap. I could not reach them well enough to pull in that direction so I needed assistance. I used my office chair at full hight to help me stand up. My first time standing up was intense as I had no balance and wasn’t sure how to position myself to get balance. I decided to use our long hallway to get my start with them. As you can see my daughter tried them as well and she used the hallway to get started too.
It didn’t take me to long to feel secure walking on them without holding onto anything. I was good to go within about five minutes of hallway walking. I found that standing still was almost impossible so I had to keep moving shifting back and forth to keep from losing balance. Walking along the street for the first time was both fun and scary. I felt like I was doing pretty well but a small stumble quickly reminded me to slow myself down. The first night walking with them I was able to walk around my block and minus looking like a fool stumbling around at times I felt like I did quite well. Something to note is that the stilts have a locking pin in place under your feet. This is to help you get started with them. You also need it in place to jump, but for walking and running you can remove the pin to have more of a natural walking movement. This was my big mistake on day two with the stilts. I removed the pin knowing that the instructions state to do this once you have become fully comfortable with walking in the stilts. The video below is from my first night on the stilts. I had used crutches to help stabilize myself as I walked outdoors. I quickly threw them away as I got more comfortable.
I did, however, notice the new natural movement of my feet when taking steps and thought I would be able to handle them. I wanted to try running. I had my daughter ride beside me on an electric bike to see how fast I was able to get while running on the stilts. She was going somewhere between 10 and 14 MPH and staying with me so I know I had to be doing the same. As I was starting to get into a good jogging pace a neighbor yelled out to me and said, “Those look like fun!” I turned to respond with, “They are a blast!” By the time I turned my head forward after speaking the words I heard the back of the stilts click. You can see in the video above how this can happen. Luckily, when it happened in the video I was able to recover, but when they bumped the second night, that was it. I went straight down. Running at that speed, I wasn’t able to correct myself nor was I able to protect myself as when going forwards on stilts there was only one direction to fall. Both my wrist and elbows smashed super hard into the concrete and so did my entire right side of my body.
My knee smashed up against the metal and padding of the front bar that goes right below your knee. Once I pulled the straps off, my knee swelled to the size of a tennis ball. I thought for sure that I had cracked my kneecap. I was lucky that I did not right away take the stilts off. While on the ground, I crawled over to the grass and my daughter helped me back to my feet. This was a task in itself as with jumping stilts you can’t just stand up. She had to take a lot of my weight to get me standing. I was able to walk home on the stilts but once I got back I took them off.
I was complaining of my wrist and knee right away but when I went to see the orthopedic doctor I had also started to feel some major pain in my arm. Basically, once the endorphins from the fall wore off, I was in a ton of pain. The doctor x-rayed my wrist, elbow, and knee. He said the knee has bursitis and hoped that the fluid would go down on its own. With the elbow and wrist, he was concerned about two small fractures and said a fracture that may not show up until some time later once the swelling comes down, so he prescribed a hard fitted plastic splint for two weeks (to only be taken off during showers) and then a recheck x-ray and further treatment at that time.
Would I consider Jumping Stilts to be a good buy? No, not at all. These things look like a blast and they truly are magical when you are bouncing around but once you take a good fall on them you will feel that it’s just not worth the risk. I thought while sitting at home with my arm in a customized, molded plastic splint that is being used to keep my arm, wrist, and shoulder from moving, that even if I was being smart, or super careful the act of a dog running out in front of me or a car driving by could send me back to the ground. Even if I had good protective gear, there is no way to stop myself from smashing into the concrete again. These look cool but are very dangerous and even though they are well-built (except for the security straps), I really can’t recommend them.
For more details, visit Skyrunner